Q: I am not really a morning person, however, my physician advised that I start incorporating breakfast into my daily routine to aid in cholesterol reduction and weight loss. Could you provide me with some quick ideas that will fit into my busy schedule and still fulfill my heart-healthy goals?
A: Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day. Too many of us skip it for reasons such as trying to lose weight, not hungry, not a "morning person" , or for lack of time. But these reasons should not steer anyone away from the many health benefits that can be derived from eating breakfast.
First of all, eating breakfast is a great way to get your metabolism up and running; studies have shown people are more alert and ready for daily challenges when they consume breakfast. This metabolism boost is also a great way to help people shed unwanted pounds. When speaking of heart-health, breakfast is a good way to get a start on the 25 or more grams of dietary fiber you need each day to help lower cholesterol levels.
Preparing breakfast foods does not have to be a time-consuming process. With a little planning, everyone can enjoy the health benefits derived from eating a breakfast each day.
Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:
At home –
- Bowl of instant oatmeal or oat bran topped with fruit and/or walnuts, skim milk or low fat soy milk.
- Bowl of ready-to-eat high fiber cereal topped fruit and/or walnuts, skim milk or low fat soy milk.
- 2 slices whole-grain toast, English muffin, pita or bagel topped with 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter, 1 tsp. trans-fatty acid free margarine or 2 Tbsp. Nonfat cream cheese.
- 6-8 oz. nonfat or 1% yogurt topped with fruit, nuts or granola.
- 4 oz. nonfat or 1% cottage cheese, served with tomato or pineapple slices.
- 2 low-fat hard granola bars with 8 oz. skim milk or low-fat soy milk.
- 2 egg-equivalent egg white or egg substitute omelet served on whole grain toast with orange wedges.
- Whole grain bagel topped with ½ cup nonfat or 1% cottage cheese; broiled for 5 minutes until bagel crispy, then topped with berries or fruit of choice.
- 8 oz. yogurt, fruit of choice and 2 Tbsp. Ground flax seeds or wheat germ with ice – blend in blender and serve.
When all else fails enjoy leftover meals from the night before.
In the car –
- Trail mix of high-fiber Chex® cereal or flake, dried fruit and nuts.
- Bag of dry high-fiber cereal and carton of skim or 1% milk.
- Piece of fruit and 8 oz. container of low fat or fat free yogurt or yogurt smoothie.
- Toasted whole grain bagel or bread with 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter or nut butter (soy, almond, cashew).
- Low-fat granola bar (less than 150 calories and greater than 4 grams of fiber per bar) and 4 oz. 100% fruit juice.
- High-fiber, low-fat bran muffin with piece of fruit or 4 oz. 100% fruit juice.
At restaurant –
- Bowl of oatmeal with whole grain toast, 4 oz. 100% fruit juice or fresh fruit cup.
- Whole-wheat bagel with light cream cheese and fresh fruit cup.
- Egg white or egg substitute vegetable omelet served with fruit or tomato slices and whole wheat toast or bagel.
- Choose breakfasts listed as ‘light’ or ‘heart-healthy’ on the menu.
- 8 oz. nonfat or low fat yogurt topped with granola, nuts or fruit.
- Low fat cottage cheese with fruit/applesauce or tomato slices and a side of dry whole grain toast
- Pancakes topped with fresh fruit and light syrup, served with Canadian bacon.
- Cold high-fiber cereal served with skim milk or low fat milk.
- Bran muffin or low fat muffin and cottage cheese or fruit
At fast food restaurant –
- Avoid on most occasions as food choices are limited.
- Fresh fruit, yogurt and granola cup.
- Bran or whole grain muffin, low fat or no added sugar muffin and 4 oz. 100% fruit juice or fruit cup
- Pancakes served with light syrup, dry unless margarine is available, 4 oz. 100% fruit juice or fruit cup
- Choose bagel or English muffin breakfast sandwiches over croissants or biscuits.
- If breakfast sandwich has egg, meat and cheese, try to eliminate the meat (e.g. bacon and sausage) and have just egg and cheese. If the meat is Canadian bacon, eliminate the cheese.
- Avoid hash browns, donuts, high-fat muffins and any other Danish or pastry.
- If at a bagel shop, choose whole grain bagel with peanut butter, jelly or nonfat cream cheese in place of butter and regular cream cheese.
- Bring along a nonfat yogurt or piece of fruit from home to enhance the meal.
These few ideas should help you quickly and easily incorporate a healthful, fiber and nutrient-rich breakfast into your daily regimen. Your heart will thank you for it in the long run.
For more information on a heart-healthy diet plan, please contact the Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation Program at 216.444-9353 (or toll-free at 800.223.2273, extension 49353) and we can schedule a nutrition consultation - or - use our Remote Cardiac Nutrition Counseling Services.